Drug Allergies

Drug allergies can have serious implications for future medical care. Dr. Johnson performs extensive testing for drug allergies so her Downtown, Los Angeles, CA, patients can understand their risks and take steps to avoid exposure in the future.

Q&A

 

What is a drug allergy?

A drug allergy or drug allergic reaction occurs when the body's immune system reacts in an unusual or abnormal way to a medication, either prescribed or over-the-counter. Any medication, herbal remedy or supplement can cause a reaction, but most commonly, reactions occur with:

  • insulin

  • anti-convulsant medications

  • antibiotics

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

  • barbiturates

Allergic reactions also tend to occur more frequently with drugs that are applied topically, are injected or inhaled, are taken at high doses, or are taken over a long period of time.

What are the common symptoms associated with drug allergies?

Drug allergies can cause a host of symptoms, including:

  • itching

  • swelling

  • hives

  • rash

  • fever

  • difficulty breathing

  • runny nose

  • itchy eyes

Severe allergic reactions can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that can cause seizures, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, shock, and death. Although most allergic reactions occur shortly after taking a medication, some reactions are delayed and don't occur until several days afterward.

Are drug sensitivities and drug allergies the same?

No; in fact, many people may be sensitive to medications, developing symptoms like upset stomach or nausea. Allergic reactions, on the other hand, involve an abnormal immune response that's triggered by the drug.

How will Dr. Johnson diagnose drug allergies?

Diagnosis begins with a thorough personal and family health history and a physical exam to look for possible causes and rule out other diseases or medical conditions. Blood tests to look for substances called immunoglobulins may help confirm diagnosis. Depending on the drug and the reaction, skin tests may be avoided since they may trigger serious adverse reactions.

How are drug allergies treated?

If an allergy is confirmed, you need to be sure to tell any healthcare provider about the allergy to avoid receiving the medication in the future. Carrying a medical ID card is also a good idea.

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DOWNTOWN WEST
ALLERGY AND ASTHMA

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1127 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1604, Los Angeles, CA 90017

T: 212-300-2102  • F: 800-586-0181

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